RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Colonial Heights man is facing a list of charges in connection with a series of sexual assaults that occurred over the course of several months last year in Richmond’s Fan District.
The incidents all occurred near Virginia Commonwealth University, and police sources tell WAVY sister station WRIC 8News that the victims are students.
Justin A. Harvey, 26, of Cloverhill Avenue, was arrested in September 2018 after being suspected of lifting up the skirts of two females. Police later identified Harvey as the suspect in several other sex assault investigations.
Richmond police say the investigation was a collaborative effort with VCU police.
“Anytime we can get a violent person off the street, like this individual, is absolutely — definitely good,” said Detective Benjamin Neifeld with RPD.
The first occurred in March of 2018 after a female reported that a male briefly attacked her in the 1800 block of Grove Avenue and assaulted a female. Harvey has been charged with statutory burglary for this alleged crime.
The second incident occurred on May 5 when a broke into an apartment in the 1000 block of Park Avenue and sexually assaulted a female.
The following evening, police say Harvey broke into an apartment in the 2000 block of Grove Avenue and assaulted another female. Harvey has been charged with two counts of statutory burglary, rape, aggravated sexual battery, malicious wounding, simple assault and two counts of unlawful videoing in connection with these two incidents.
News of these attacks alarmed neighborhoods in Richmond’s Fan District — an area that prides itself on having a strong sense of community.
“As a business rooted in the community, we wanna feel like we’re a place where people could come and feel safe,” said David Foster, owner of High Point Barbershop.
Foster tells 8News one of the assaults happened just a block from his shop. He was relieved to hear that an arrest was made after several months of attacks.
“That was a very alarming and concerning thing that was happening last year,” he said.
“Knowing that its possible that the person that was at the heart of it is off the streets — definitely makes me feel good.”
With the announcement of these charges and a picture of the suspect making the rounds, investigators say it’s possible more reports could surface.
“There could be other victims out there,” said Neifeld.
VCU, meanwhile, issued the following statement regarding the arrest:
“We thank the survivors in these cases for coming forward and VCU Police will continue to work diligently with Richmond Police to thoroughly investigate all reports of assault and battery. Every report is taken seriously and investigated and in these cases, led to the apprehension of a suspect.
Detectives with the Richmond Police Department Major Crimes unit ask anyone who has information about these incidents to contact Major Crimes Detective B. Neifeld at (804) 646-3246 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.
At VCU, students, faculty and staff have multiple options for reporting sexual assaults. VCU offers care and support and encourages people to seek help as soon as possible; also, as time passes, important evidence may be lost. (Below is a list of resources at VCU.)
- The VCU community can contact the VCU Police Department (which offers the You Have Options program). The VCUPD emergency number is (804) 828-1234. Community members can also download the LiveSafe app and send in messages; both the emergency line and LiveSafe app are monitored 24/7.
- VCU Health System Forensic Nurse Services (through the Emergency Department)
- For students: Student Health Services and University Counseling Services. Equity and Access Services serves as the Title IX office for VCU and coordinates the university’s response to reports. Students can explore, in a confidential setting, available options based on individual circumstances, by contacting advocates located in University Counseling Services at MyOptions@vcu.edu.”
Detectives with the Richmond Police Department Major Crimes unit ask anyone who has information about these incidents to contact Major Crimes Detective B. Neifeld at 804-646-3246 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.